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Intelligent designís long march to nowhere
Science & Theology News ^ | 05 December 2005 | Karl Giberson

Posted on 12/05/2005 4:06:56 AM PST by PatrickHenry

The leaders of the intelligent design movement are once again holding court in America, defending themselves against charges that ID is not science. One of the expert witnesses is Michael Behe, author of the ID movement’s seminal volume Darwin’s Black Box. Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, testified about the scientific character of ID in Kitzmiller v. Dover School District, the court case of eight families suing the school district and the school board in Dover, Pa., for mandating the teaching of intelligent design.

Under cross-examination, Behe made many interesting comparisons between ID and the big-bang theory — both concepts carry lots of ideological freight. When the big-bang theory was first proposed in the 1920s, many people made hostile objections to its apparent “supernatural” character. The moment of the big bang looked a lot like the Judeo-Christian creation story, and scientists from Quaker Sir Arthur Eddington to gung-ho atheist Fred Hoyle resisted accepting it.

In his testimony, Behe stated — correctly — that at the current moment, “we have no explanation for the big bang.” And, ultimately it may prove to be “beyond scientific explanation,” he said. The analogy is obvious: “I put intelligent design in the same category,” he argued.

This comparison is quite interesting. Both ID and the big-bang theory point beyond themselves to something that may very well lie outside of the natural sciences, as they are understood today. Certainly nobody has produced a simple model for the big–bang theory that fits comfortably within the natural sciences, and there are reasons to suppose we never will.

In the same way, ID points to something that lies beyond the natural sciences — an intelligent designer capable of orchestrating the appearance of complex structures that cannot have evolved from simpler ones. “Does this claim not resemble those made by the proponents of the big bang?” Behe asked.

However, this analogy breaks down when you look at the historical period between George Lemaitre’s first proposal of the big-bang theory in 1927 and the scientific community’s widespread acceptance of the theory in 1965, when scientists empirically confirmed one of the big bang’s predictions.

If we continue with Behe’s analogy, we might expect that the decades before 1965 would have seen big-bang proponents scolding their critics for ideological blindness, of having narrow, limited and inadequate concepts of science. Popular books would have appeared announcing the big-bang theory as a new paradigm, and efforts would have been made to get it into high school astronomy textbooks.

However, none of these things happened. In the decades before the big-bang theory achieved its widespread acceptance in the scientific community its proponents were not campaigning for public acceptance of the theory. They were developing the scientific foundations of theory, and many of them were quite tentative about their endorsements of the theory, awaiting confirmation.

Physicist George Gamow worked out a remarkable empirical prediction for the theory: If the big bang is true, he calculated, the universe should be bathed in a certain type of radiation, which might possibly be detectable. Another physicist, Robert Dicke, started working on a detector at Princeton University to measure this radiation. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson ended up discovering the radiation by accident at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J., in 1965, after which just about everyone accepted the big bang as the correct theory.

Unfortunately, the proponents of ID aren’t operating this way. Instead of doing science, they are writing popular books and op-eds. As a result, ID remains theoretically in the same scientific place it was when Phillip Johnson wrote Darwin on Triallittle more than a roster of evolutionary theory’s weakest links.

When Behe was asked to explicate the science of ID, he simply listed a number of things that were complex and not adequately explained by evolution. These structures, he said, were intelligently designed. Then, under cross-examination, he said that the explanation for these structures was “intelligent activity.” He added that ID “explains” things that appear to be intelligently designed as having resulted from intelligent activity.

Behe denied that this reasoning was tautological and compared the discernment of intelligently designed structures to observing the Sphinx in Egypt and concluding that it could not have been produced by non-intelligent causes. This is a winsome analogy with a lot of intuitive resonance, but it is hardly comparable to Gamow’s carefully derived prediction that the big bang would have bathed the universe in microwave radiation with a temperature signature of 3 degrees Kelvin.

After more than a decade of listening to ID proponents claim that ID is good science, don’t we deserve better than this?


Karl Giberson [the author of this piece] is editor in chief at Science & Theology News.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: crevolist; evochat; goddoodit; idjunkscience; idmillionidiotmarch; intelligentdesign
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To: js1138
"Natural Theology" was written in 1802. What new concept has arisen in the ID movement since then?

Scientific evidence that may demonstrate irreducible complexity - that is the new concept.

Natural theology is a concept of theology (thus the name). ID has nothing to do with theology. Natural theology goes back much further than 1802 and Paley's book - Thomas Aquinas was big into this concept 600 years earlier.

Natural theology are arguments based on a deity. There is no deity in ID - other groups with theology as their root embrace ID in their effort to support the concept of deity but ID does not contain a deity - just evidence of design rather than evolution. If someone claims the "designer" of the irreducible complexity is God - that is their trip, but it not part of ID.

481 posted on 12/05/2005 7:45:17 PM PST by Last Visible Dog
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To: Right Wing Professor
. . . it shows how crazy it's gotten.

What do you mean, "crazy?" Just a minor glitch in the heartless process of natural selection, etc. Just the "laws of nature" at work. Onward and upward, you know.

482 posted on 12/05/2005 7:48:11 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: pby
Nonsense. Just because I might not agree on everything with a person doesn't mean that I cannot ever agree with him. That's the "strange bedfellows" bit. It's still not quote mining, unless you can demonstrate that PatrickHenry took the words out of context to change their meaning (which is where the "mining" part comes in.
Karl Giberson also states that, "Behe is right, of course, that there are many such complex things in nature that evolution cannot presently explain."

I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. It's true on its face. Doesn't mean that we have to leap to supernatural conclusions.

The standard seems much higher when it is the other way around.

You might want to have that persecution complex checked out. Stop it before it spreads. ;-)

483 posted on 12/05/2005 7:58:27 PM PST by highball ("I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson)
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To: PatrickHenry
He said his injuries included a broken tooth.

500 years from now when some hapless paleontologist unearths his bones the "scientific" conclusion will be this fellow dined on a few too many corn nuts.

484 posted on 12/05/2005 7:59:04 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Fester Chugabrew

You despicable excuse for a human being.


485 posted on 12/05/2005 8:00:04 PM PST by Right Wing Professor
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To: Right Wing Professor

How many posts before some creationists defends these guys?


486 posted on 12/05/2005 8:00:10 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Doctor Stochastic

Fester's gloating already. DSC just a week ago advocated doing what these guys did.


487 posted on 12/05/2005 8:01:50 PM PST by Right Wing Professor
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To: Fester Chugabrew
Just a minor glitch in the heartless process of natural selection, etc. Just the "laws of nature" at work.

Professor, who possesses a cell phone decides to pull over and park to let a tailgater by. Said tailgater parks behind said Professor. The wise professor instead of driving off and using cell phone to report tailgater decides for whatever reason to chat with the exhaust sniffing sportsman. I'd rather not believe it happened than to accept the the story and realize that this person teaches at a university level.

488 posted on 12/05/2005 8:02:21 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: Right Wing Professor

Hehe. You wouldn't happen to be wearing a red baseball cap and wool gloves, would you?


489 posted on 12/05/2005 8:02:24 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Fester Chugabrew

Not now.


490 posted on 12/05/2005 8:04:29 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Doctor Stochastic

Hmmmmm

Over use of "s" in the present tense; one and only one should be used.


491 posted on 12/05/2005 8:05:51 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: AndrewC
It's possible it's a hoax. If it isn't, you basically just blamed him for being beaten up.

I live in rural Nebraska. If a couple of guys were tailigating me, I would probably pull over, and might well get out to ask them what was up. This is not the kind of place you expect to have stragners attack you.

492 posted on 12/05/2005 8:06:10 PM PST by Right Wing Professor
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To: Right Wing Professor

I didn't read far enough. Not one creationist will criticize this either.


493 posted on 12/05/2005 8:07:05 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Doctor Stochastic

You might want to have that persecution complex checked out.


494 posted on 12/05/2005 8:09:06 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Right Wing Professor
This is not the kind of place you expect to have strangers attack you.

Like natural selection and random mutations, it can happen anywhere, anytime.

495 posted on 12/05/2005 8:12:43 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Right Wing Professor
If anyone ever threatens you call for Wolf in Chicago or any other Freeper.

Thats regardless of what goes down in these boards.

Wolf
496 posted on 12/05/2005 8:13:42 PM PST by RunningWolf (Vet US Army Air Cav 1975)
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To: Doctor Stochastic; Right Wing Professor
Not one creationist will criticize this either.

About as many creationists as criticized the repeated lies and perjury of the Dover school board, I'll wager.

We know from that they apparently don't consider lying to infidels to be a problem, how do they feel about advance their agenda through the use of fists?

497 posted on 12/05/2005 8:14:40 PM PST by highball ("I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Right Wing Professor
It's possible it's a hoax. If it isn't, you basically just blamed him for being beaten up.

No. I "blamed" him for being stupid if it is true. If the guys were in a police car with lights and that happened, he wouldn't have been stupid just beaten up. If it is true the guys need to be punished to the full extent of the law. It is just that Denmark comes to mind.

498 posted on 12/05/2005 8:15:24 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: RunningWolf

Well, thanks for the offer, Wolf, but I can take care of myself. I'm no liberal, and I'm a big fan of the second amendment.


499 posted on 12/05/2005 8:18:28 PM PST by Right Wing Professor
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To: Right Wing Professor
I would probably pull over, and might well get out to ask them what was up. This is not the kind of place you expect to have stragners attack you.

I would advise against that even in Amish country. A tailgating buggy is up to no good.(or you are going d*mn slow)

500 posted on 12/05/2005 8:18:30 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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